Castaic Lake, at 2,240 acres, is made of two different “arms.” The “ski arm” extends in a North-South direction, while the “fish arm” runs from East to West. The two main keys to finding bass in the spring are depth and water temperature, and Castaic is no exception. Shallow water is a relative term, and while depths of 10-25 feet might scare a fisherman in Florida, it is welcome news to a Castaic basser to know the fish are moving into that depth range. In mid March to mid April, that depth is the place to be. This time of year, I like to head for hard banks made of gravel and chunk rock on the North Side of the ski arm. These banks face the sun as it rises and are the some of the first to warm in the spring. As the sun rises higher the composition of these banks help to suck in the warmth and the bass will move up on them. A water temperature of around 58 degrees seems to be the magic number. Many time I have been in the ski arm where cold water is coming in from the aqueduct and the fishing was slow in the 55 degree water, but when we moved over to the fish arm we found warmer water and cooperative bass as well. Although we are conditioned as bass fisherman tend to think the early morning hours are best, the mid morning to mid afternoon hours in spring, with its warmer water, can be better. Try to find areas that are protected from the wind. Remember, wind breaks up the surface of the water and keeps it from warming. In the spring, still water will warm quicker, especially if it is near hard banks.
One of my favorite areas for spring time bassin’ is Sharon’s Rest. If the lake is near capacity this area is home to a large spawning flat, a rarity on an otherwise deep lake. There are several main lake points in the area as well as a large cove, and dragging a zoom lizard around on light line in this area can result in an instant hookup. Green Pumpkin, Pumkinseed and water melon are some great color choices, in four and five inch sizes.
This is also the time of year that bass start feeding on crawdads with abandon as they enter the pre spawn stage. Stick with crawdad colors such as light oxblood and oxblood red flake and use quality plastics like Roboworms or Gigi baits. Try dropshotting these from the bank on down until you start getting bites. Note the most productive depth and type of structure and try duplicating your effort in other areas of the lake. This is all about establishing a pattern for catching these Castaic bass.
If you like throwing jigs, move to some of the steeper banks between Sharon’s Rest and Elizabeth Canyon and let em’ have it with a double tail Yamamoto Spider jig in Cinnamon Brown or Smoke. A Brown Bill’s Custom Jig tipped with a brown super pork frog can be dynamite as well. Don’t be afraid to fish these baits along the West Wall of the ski arm, those rocky banks can be productive as well.
One key to fishing jigs is too slow way down. Just barely crawl the jigs over the bottom contours. Try to make you jig look as natural as possible. When you feel like your jig is stuck, give it a little hop to get in over the little ridge or rock it is on, and then let the line fall on a slack line. Be ready for a stike as they often occur as the lure is falling back to the bottom. The fish can be fickle this time of year with a change in the weather, one day can treat you to a 15lb limit while the next day can be much tougher if colder weather moves in. Unstable weather is common during this time frame and the most productive fishing usually takes place after several days of warm, stable weather. Keep an eye on the weather and if strong north winds are predicted make sure to use extra caution. The main launch ramp is completely exposed to the North wind and getting a boat on a trailer can be almost impossible in the choppy conditions.
The best source of information for Castaic any time of year is located at castaiclake.com. There you will find a weather station and web cam with current conditions as well as information on launch fees and upcoming events such as tournaments. You will also find a link to the Friends of Castaic Lake, an organization dedicated to the betterment of this great recreation area. So when you get a hankering for some fast spring time bassing, head to Castaic. Keep an eye on the weather and water conditions, rig up with a few jigs, lizards, and the trusty drop shot and have at it. You’ll soon be into some quality bass on what is still one of the most productive lake in Southern California.